By SHWETA RAJ KANWAR | February 1, 2018
It is funny how media plays a major role in forming people’s opinions and making them look into things with perspectives that might have been otherwise ignored, had the fourth estate not made a hullabaloo out of a minor thing. Social media keeps playing its part in fueling the fire of unwarranted controversies and is often an important tool in political campaigns.
As Meghalaya gears up for Assembly Elections on February 27, BJP as well as AICC chiefs paid a visit to the state in order to test the waters and to get a fair idea of what the situation is like considering the people’s support. AICC President Rahul Gandhi also visited the state from January 29-31 but, what made headlines in many local leading regional dailies was not what was his plan or agenda for the upcoming elections was but the price of the jacket he wore!
And funnily, the jacket that he wore at the Peace Concert held in Polo, Shillong became the highlight of attention of all media houses including of course the BJP. One tweet from BJP the very next day and the issue made headlines all over National Media:
So @OfficeOfRG , soot(pun intended!)-boot ki sarkar with ‘black’ money fleeced from Meghalayan State exchequer by rampant corruption? Instead of singing away our woes, you could have given a report card of your inefficient govt in Meghalaya! Your indifference mocks us! pic.twitter.com/sRvj5eoyRb
— BJP Meghalaya (@BJP4Meghalaya) January 30, 2018
While in the tweet above, BJP is seen to be accusing Rahul Gandhi of not ‘Singing away our woes’, by highlighting on the suit and boot that he wore and asking him to provide a ‘report card of your inefficient govt in Meghalaya!’, it may be mentioned, I wonder how is tweeting about someone’s attire related to ‘fleecing black money’ and that too from Meghalayan State exchequer!
I totally understand the point that is been tried to present to the people but how is a winter coat related to siphoning off money from Meghalaya? I believe that many in Meghalaya will be able to afford the same jacket (that is if they really wish to spend that amount on a jacket). Not siding with any political party here, but this issue clearly made no sense to me.
And as if all this was not enough, in a one-to-one press interaction with the AICC chief the very next day, instead of taking the opportunity of having a fruitful discussion and questioning the AICC National President on issues that really matter, the media fraternity seemed to be more interested in getting a quote from Rahul Gandhi about the jacket so that the ‘so-called’ issue could be made into a trending news.
And then they say that political parties do not meet the press often! Well, if meeting the press leads to such kinds of news making front page headlines the next day, then I believe it becomes very much irrelevant to do so.
The issue gave other political parties an opportunity to throw jibes at the Congress when they pointed out the price of each suit worn by Meghalaya CM Dr. Mukul Sangma and each reaction made different headlines in different local dailies.
But the people of Meghalaya seemed to hold on to their rationality as I asked them about the issue and what do they think about this. Claudia Jessica Bamon, who is also known as the first lady bouncer from Northeast India said, ” I do not understand why is this even a news! Shillong is a cold place so what do you expect? Rahul Gandhi should not wear any jacket? It is his money, let him buy and wear whatever he wants to? We only want to talk about issues that matter”. Many other people also seemed to hold on to similar views. But while people of Meghalaya seemed quite unaffected by this, Twitteratis on social media did not fail in their duties to troll Rahul on this:
— Rakesh Ranjan (@cartoonistrrs) February 1, 2018
While many other members of the press fraternity did focus on important issues, the highlight of the day was without any doubt, ‘the Suit-boot ki sarkaar’. As Northeast India battles with the problem of unemployment, infrastructure, the border issue pertaining to the non-clarity of Naga Peace accord where many lives have been lost due to the oblivious content of the same and the problem of illegal foreigners’ influx into the region, ignoring all these issues, if the leading regional newspapers have to make headlines about a person’s winter jacket, then the role of media as a fourth estate as well as the functioning of politics in a democracy is utterly defied!
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